'Miracle Healing' Program Pulled From British TV

From Associated Press

An American evangelist who picked up the pieces of Jim and Tammy Bakker's television empire has been told he cannot work miracles on British television.

The weekly "miracle healing" episode of "Victory With Morris Cerullo" was pulled last week from Super Channel after the Independent Television Commission expressed concern. The channel has 23 million viewers across Europe.

Regulators say the program violates British standards because miracles cannot be proved. Cerullo says the regulators are missing the point.

The commission cited two sections of Britain's Program Code, which state in part: "Religious programs must not contain claims by or about living individuals or groups, suggesting that they have special powers or abilities, which are incapable of being substantiated."

Commission spokesman Leslie Ashton said: "If the general perception is that people have powers to heal and that they can actually make people rise up . . . that breaks the code."

The commission, which promulgated the code and was established by Parliament, is just following the law, he said.

The commission and the ministry are trying to work out a solution.

Super Channel lawyer Debbie Waddell said the network "would be happy" to put the miracle program back on the air once the two work out their differences.

"Morris Cerullo never claims to heal the people himself. He claims God heals them, and who are we to judge that?" she said.

Cerullo said he welcomed the dispute because it gave him a chance to discuss the rules with the commission.

"The problem is we're dealing with people for whom much of what we do in evangelical, charismatic circles is new and foreign," said Cerullo, who left the Assemblies of God about 10 years ago. "They don't understand how God can work."

Greg Mauro, European director of Cerullo's ministry, said Cerullo was interested in the case because the ministry wants to launch a 24-hour European Christian family channel.

The "miracle healing" episode of Cerullo's program ran on Fridays. Teaching episodes, in which Cerullo discusses the Bible, are still showing on Super Channel on Monday through Thursday.

In 1990, Cerullo bought the bankrupt PTL ministry and Heritage USA retreat founded by Bakker. Bakker, convicted of mail fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy, is serving a 45-year sentence at a federal prison.

From the bones of the PTL television network, Cerullo, 59, has assembled his 24-hour TV station, the Inspirational Network, which boasts 6.4 million viewers.

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